#MeToo & Radical Self-Love event places focus on survivors of sexual assault

Charlotte Lang

Colorado State University’s first annual #MeToo & Radical Self-Love event took place Wednesday evening at the Lory Student Center. Hosted by the Women and Gender Advocacy Center and Ram Events, this event was one of the many taking place in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

A participant in the #MeToo and Radical Self Love event plays with sensory water beads as a form of relaxation. Tactile experiences, such as playing with these beads, are known to increase sensory experiences and keep people from dissociating, which can be useful for victims of sexual assault who are struggling with anxiety and dissociation. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

The evening offered a chance for primary and secondary survivors of sexual violence to explore themes such as healing and rejuvenation.

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“Events like this are very important, especially during Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” said Hannah Manning of WGAC’s Red Whistle Brigade and one of the workers for the event. “It’s crucial for survivors because … these people are already aware. What are we doing for them?”

Bailey Schmidt, another worker at the event, said she hoped for the event to impact people “in a way of (people) being able to build a community where they feel comfortable and safe and able to heal.”

According to Kristy Kumar, WGAC assistant director of educational programs, this month is meant to promote awareness and educate communities on sexual assault. The #MeToo & Radical Self-Love event, having been in the works for approximately two and a half months, focuses on the survivors.

“So often, we talk about this word self-care but we never really talk about how to do it,” Kumar said. “This event was not about saying the right way to do that. It was about saying ‘hey, I want an evening of compassion for myself … in a radical glorious way.’”

So often, we talk about this word self-care but we never really talk about how to do it. This event was … about saying ‘hey, I want an evening for myself … in a radical glorious way’.” Kristy Kumar, assistant director of educational programs for WGAC

According to Kumar, over 150 students attended the event, proving its necessity on the campus.

“The number of folks that showed up to this event highlight the need and the want for recognition around survivorship,” Kumar said. “Often, society has let survivors know to suppress their stories, not take it public. And that’s fine for some folks but I think this event highlighted a declaration saying ‘I’m a primary or secondary survivor and I deserve justice, resources, time and space to learn strategies around healing.”  

According to Kumar, intentionality and collaboration were important factors in the creation of this event.

“There was a lot of intentionality around every single room design and a lot of collaboration,” Kumar said. “Each room collaborated with each student diversity programs and services office.”

The Student Diversity Programs and Servies offices that collaborated include the Black/African American Cultural Center, Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center, Native American Cultural Center, El Centro, Pride Resource Center and Resources for Disabled Students.

While there were many open sessions for anyone to take part in, a few focuses for the night were the affinity spaces for those who identified with specific cultural offices.

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“There’s a philosophy around the importance of … identity-based healing,” Kumar said. “Knowing that we have multiple intersecting identities, we wanted to offer culturally specific healing … Healing is different for everybody and, oftentimes, we are healing from systems-based and identity-based oppression. So, addressing that was really important to us tonight.”

While many rooms focused on the affinity aspect, open spaces were also offered to anyone who wished to join them. Various areas of the LSC were filled with activities such as massages, therapy dogs and sensory grounding.

According to Kumar, the most popular activity was the Rage Room— a place for participants to shred papers and break ceramics with hammers while discussing healthy ways to deal with such anger.

“We had a line outside of the Rage Room the entire evening. That tells us something,” Kumar said. “There’s a lot of rage.”

The night was inspired by Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body is Not Apology, a book handed out at the end of the night.

“Radical self-love is indeed our inherent natural state,” Kumar quoted. “But … the systems around us have distracted us from that knowing.”

The goal of this event was to move closer to that inherent state of being and, according to Kumar, this goal was absolutely reached.

Collegian reporter Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChartrickWrites.